This Wednesday sees the formal announcement of the much-heralded changes to the planning system that the new Government intend to introduce.

Here’s a summary of the key changes – some of which have already been reported on:

– end to imposed housebuilding targets. You may have seen local news reports of local campaign groups popping champagne corks as local councils quickly dismiss the possibility of homes having to be built in ‘sensitive’ areas (i.e. anywhere near to wherever anyone else lives). It seems that the general mood at the moment is that no more homes will ever have to be built anywhere – which is of course an insane idea. 

– third party right of appeal introduced. By far the most controversial of all the changes – basically saying that anyone affected by a development can appeal against the decision even after it has been granted, for a limited time. The general consensus amongst housebuilders is that complete inertia will follow and the whole idea can’t last.

– end of affordable housing criteria. For many years developers building over a certain number of homes have been forced to build one affordable home. This is to end, probably at the detriment of the provision of cheaper homes.

– garden as brownfield designation finishes. The presumption that gardens could be developed on as they effectively have already been developed will end – meaning that controversial apartment complexes on people’s back gardens will finish too. Unfortunately for us, many self-build plots are formed out of gardens (the author’s included) and we’re all hoping that the ‘garden-grabbing’ law does make some distinction.

– housing density targets to end. Finally, a bit of good news – several self-builders over the past few years contacted us to tell us that local councils were refusing their applications to build a one-off house on their plot on the basis that it should in fact hold three or more houses. This is all to end – in a welcome flirtation with sanity.

 Plenty more I’m sure to come on Wednesday. This looks likely to be the biggest series of changes to the planning system for many years.

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